Solar cooking – the “most dramatic transformation of food consumption” since the industrial revolution – will save entire ecosystems, according to a fresh review that calls it a net positive. The cookers – known as rooftop solar or other public or community solar – are a green infrastructure that are saving resources, increasing the share of green energy and providing a major boost to the economy.
The clean cookers reduce the impact of putting energy into a system by being energy independent and sustainable. Up to 90% of the energy used to cook is emitted as smoke when wood, coal, plastic, often harmful products and waste that could be recycled and reclaimed, and produced wastage – a problem that Solar Energy Europe (SEE) says is ripe for a swift solution.
I will not use any single-use energy from coal or waste paper, yet I use solar power at home as well. Sustainability is about everything we consume. When we have a digital economy and artificial intelligence come to the fore, can we cut our energy bill and still use clean cooking systems?
Across Europe, 63% of households are using renewable sources such as wind and solar, rising to 90% in energy giants like Germany, which as a single nation is already leading the continent and has the fifth highest proportion of renewable energy sources in the world.
The report finds that solar cookers can save a forest in a matter of minutes, and will save and generate enough energy to power 7.3m European homes and save 14.4 gigawatts of electrical energy by 2050 and generate a more than 1bn euros.
SSE sees potential for 100m rooftop solar households to switch to the cookers, making them “a substantial engine of socio-economic growth” across Europe by bringing 200,000 new jobs and generating €50bn in annual new investment in a carbon-neutral system of energy storage.
The report is released by SEE, one of Europe’s largest renewable energy utilities, and the Guardian. It comes less than a month after environment minister Claire Perry said the UK’s transition to a low-carbon economy was being powered by solar cookers.
“We can now install solar rooftop systems with the cost of electricity now coming down and at a time when we need to shift more of our food on to fresh grounds, and that is literally changing the shape of the environment,” Perry said.
She added: “A biomass-to-gas plant could feed the entire country for a year. This is the most dramatic transformation of food consumption since the industrial revolution and creates thousands of jobs. And since solar cookers are a zero emissions product, it’s also likely to save the UK government up to £2bn a year on energy bills.”
David Roberts, CEO at SEE, said: “Our new research shows that rooftop solar cooking is a massive cost-effective solution for the energy system and the way that we consume and cook food. It’s not just good for our climate and the environment, it’s good for our wallets too.”
Solar cookers are becoming increasingly popular in Europe, with a quarter of households now owning one and the cost of connecting to the grid plummeting from £2,000 a decade ago to £500. The rapid growth means demand is now outstripping supply, and the rise of this “ecological foodie culture” is set to significantly increase in popularity.
Eric Anderson, founder of Linden Capital, said: “Many people believe solar cooking is a modest and temporary change to technology. But I think it’s clear that this is the most rapid and major transformation of food consumption since the industrial revolution, and that it’s sustainable and environmentally beneficial.”